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A Day to Remember brings energy in live show

| Monday, September 22, 2014

a-day-to-remember-WEBKERI O'MARA | The Observer
Last Thursday, after a packed week of class, I rewarded myself with a trip in Chicago to see one of my favorite bands, A Day to Remember.  After almost missing the train and sprinting to the arena to make the openers, I finally arrived at the UIC Pavilion, along with 7,000 other hardcore fans.

I was impressed when show openers and post-hardcore veterans Chiodos and Sleeping with Sirens proved their crowd-moving prowess with songs such as “Baby, You Wouldn’t Last a Minute on the Creek” and “If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn” (my favorite performances given by each, respectively), but immediately after they finished, 30 minutes of silence ensued.

Anticipation for the headliner, A Day to Remember, filled the air. The silence was broken by the blabbering intro to “The Downfall of Us All,” and when it was time, everyone in the crowd shouted the simple, yet famous lyric, “Let’s Go.”

If you’ve never heard of the band that put on what turned out to be an amazing performance last week, ADTR, comprised of Jeremy McKinnon (vocals), Neil Westfall (guitar), Josh Woodard (bass), Alex Shelnutt (drums) and Kevin Skaff (guitar), invented the now-common genre mash-up of pop-punk and metal core during their early “garage-band” days in Ocala, Florida. From a simple, albeit powerful, guitar accompanied by soaring and poppy vocals, to angry growls and heavy chugging, ADTR does it all. However, this is not meant to “scare” you more casual music listeners; the band’s ultimate pop side would not sound out of place on Top 40 radio.

The lights flashed on as McKinnon and the rest of the band ran on stage to start their set. Opening with the song that attracted so much mainstream attention for the band made the crowd go nuts, as fans jumped and sang along to every line. Immediately following, the band played “2nd Sucks” to satisfy all the die-hard metal core fans in the crowd. This song begins with the single word, “Fight,” followed by a bass drop and moshing that probably hurt quite a few fans’ faces. “Homesick,” the title song off the band’s third studio album, was another noteworthy performance. McKinnon hopped into a humongous hamster ball and ran all over the crowd. Luckily, I had already made my way down to the floor for this event.

Other favorites from their set include recent hit “Right Back at it Again,” the older fist-pumper “Mr. Highway’s Thinking About the End” and the heartfelt power-ballad “Have Faith In Me.” At the end of the set, the crowd wildly chanted for A Day to Remember to play one more song, only to be treated by the return of the band and an encore of three fan favorites: “If It Means a Lot to You,” “All Signs Point to Lauderdale” and “The Plot Bomb the Panhandle.” I’ve seen well over 50 bands perform live — A Day to Remember’s performance topped them all.

ADTR attained success because their songs fit perfectly in a live setting. The unclean vocals “pump up” the crowd, as was evident last Thursday in Chicago, while the clean vocals provide the crowd with flawless sing-a-longs. All of this is apparent on the group’s 2009 breakthrough, “Homesick.” This was followed up by the more poppy 2010 album, “What Separates Me from You.”  “Homesick’s” opener, “The Downfall of Us All,” is blasted today throughout high school locker rooms, but the sophomore album’s first single, “All I Want,” is the band’s highest-charting song and a fantastic pop-punk anthem. The band followed up with 2013’s “Common Courtesy,” which stands as a quintessential ADTR album that showcases the band in their best light.

The release of “Common Courtesy” was delayed for nearly a year due to ADTR’s pending lawsuit with their label, Victory Records.  Therefore, “Common Courtesy” was released independently, as the pending lawsuit prevented ADTR from signing on with a new label (it is not a secret that Sony Music Entertainment is courting them heavily). In accordance with Billboard’s tracking policies regarding digital independent albums, the sales were not tracked until its third week. However, it is projected that its first-week sales would have landed the album at No. 1, the first for a hardcore band.

The future of ADTR appears to be filled with promise and sustained success, especially if their live performance is any indication.


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